‘Suitor’ by Joshua Rivkin: The Power of Ambiguity

The term “suitor” evokes the masculine role in courtship, and in Joshua Rivkin’s latest collection of poetry it takes on many forms as his poems grapple with masculinity, personal history, and desire. Suitor (88 pages; Red Hen Press), whose title Rivkin tells us early on comes “from the Latin secutor,/ to follow,” proves an expansive rumination on the self, what it means to succeed those who came before you, as well as the pursuit of desire.

Rivkin’s poems emphasize a need to unearth perspectives previously unknown. In doing so, Rivkin sheds patriarchal categorizations of good and bad, of binaries and a singular objective reality, in favor of a perspective made up of multiple concurring realities. In the same poem he defines the collection’s title, he begins by asking for forgiveness: “–forgive me/ mistakes, half-/truths, my own wrong/ angles of forgetting.” Rivkin evokes a longing for a sense of reconciliation and conclusions, but at the same time his poetry demonstrates the power of ambiguity, of lyric over objectivity.

Read the full review here.

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